• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Facebook: Users charged for speed camera posts

Joshua Melvin · 17 Jun 2014, 13:03

Published: 17 Jun 2014 13:03 GMT+02:00

Posting on Facebook has long carried the risk of embarrassment or insult, but increasingly, it seems, it could land you in trouble with the law.

That’s exactly what’s happened to a group of ten drivers in Aveyron in south-western France after they posted warnings on a Facebook page to other motorists about the locations of speed cameras and where police were carrying out traffic stops. 

And while some might consider the posts an act of citizenship and others may understand it counts as a minor infraction, prosecutors in France are taking it very seriously.

The defendants in the case, who’ve been charged with illegally detecting a speed enforcement device, could see their drivers’ licenses revoked and face an up to €1,500 fine.

One of the men charged said the case is ridiculous given that he simply warned his friends there was a speed camera on the side of the road.

“I’m being prosecuted because they have likened me to a radar detector,” David Alègre, 40, a lorry driver told French daily Le Figaro.

France has cracked down in recent years on devices that enable drivers to be aware of the location of speed cameras. In January 2012 the government introduced a law which banned the use radar warning devices, including GPS systems that included speed camera detectors. The devices were allowed to make drivers aware of traffic black spots or dangerous road sections.

Averyon prosecutor Yves Delpérié said he got fed up with people using Facebook to circumvent law enforcement’s efforts to save lives.

“I lay awake at night because people are getting killed on the road,” Delpérié told Le Figaro. “It’s appalling that certain people put out warnings about the locations of speed cameras."

This case could have wide reaching consequences in France, where scores of online sites allow drivers to reveal the locations speed cameras. In the case of the Averyon page, just ten people have been charged, but some 9,000 others follow it and are able to call out speed traps.

The lawyer for the lorry driver said the prosecution’s desire to make the roads safe is admirable, but he’s going about it the wrong way.

“The emotion of this prosecutor shouldn't be a factor in roadway safety,” lawyer Rémy Josseaume told BFM TV. “Traffic fatalities are horrible, but why not reinforce drunken driving checks or forbid drivers from using their mobiles?”

He went on to note the prosecutor is overlooking all the other ways people can learn about the location of speed cameras and officers doing traffic enforcement.

“I’m talking about radar detector companies, the media which publishes maps of France’s most used speed cameras and the police who themselves warn of speed enforcement actions on social media. It’s a double standard.”

France may see even more of this kind of friction as the country’s top cop, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has just announced a new plan to drop the speed limit to 80 km/h on certain roads.

He said it’s just an experiment, but as France has brought its number of road deaths to a record low and hopes to continue the drop, the experiment may become permanent.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Opinion - Strikes in France
Why the French are right to go on strike
Opinion: Why the French are entirely right to go on strike all the time. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

There are good reasons why the French go on strike a lot.

LATEST: Where in France the petrol shortage is biting
Photo: Essence

The latest estimates say some 4,000 of the country’s 12,000 petrol stations are now out of fuel or running low.

A complete guide to France's (many) upcoming strikes
All photos: AFP

A rundown of all the strikes in France today and in the coming days and weeks. Good luck.

Foreign investment rises in all of Europe except France
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

France is the only country in Europe to have seen a net drop in foreign investment this year...

French unions to switch protests to electricity supplies
Photo: AFP

Are things about to get a lot worse for the French public?

Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

Now you see it, now you don't.

France starts using strategic reserves as fuel runs dry
Photos: AFP

French police are clearing the barricades around fuel depots but the shortages of petrol and diesel continue to hamper drivers and has forced the government to start using reserves.

How French rail services will be hit by this week's strike
Photo: AFP

Another tricky couple of days for rail travel lie ahead this week.

Who is to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
CGT union's workers block with burning tires the access to the refinery of Fos-sur-Mer, southeastern France. Photo: AFP

With petrol stations quickly running empty and the protests set to rumble on, who can be held responsible for the growing crisis?

Paris unveils first stretch of 'bicycle highway'
Photo: AFP

Could Paris be on the way to becoming the new Amsterdam for bikes?

Society
Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
Lifestyle
New map reveals Paris flat prices by Metro station
Culture
Paris: Here's how to find French cinema in English
Culture
How to say 'OUCH' in French (and ten other sounds)
National
Get ready: France to be hit by week of transport strikes
Culture
France readies for first national 'motorway party'
National
Is this the eco-solution to France's wild-peeing plague?
Sport
Paris mayor wants Seine to be 'swimmable' before Olympics
National
IN PICTURES: Police car torched in Paris protests
National
Why there's another rail strike in France and more to come
National
Why does 'everyone in France hate the police'?
2,735
jobs available